Covid-19 Research & Impact
Mini, portable Covid-19 PCR testing kit for rapid detection of Sars-Cov-2

To contain the spread of Covid-19, rapid and reliable testing on a massive scale is key. To help bring down costs of testing kits and reduce testing time, Khalifa University has developed KU-LAMP, a low-cost, and portable device for rapid testing of COVID-19. The device uses a loop mediated amplification technique without any RNA extraction to detect the COVID-19 virus in collected samples.The KU-LAMP test generates results within 45 minutes, while conventional PCR tests typically take between 2.5-3 hours to generate results. Advantages of using the device include reduced cost, simplicity, portability, and speed of test.Portable cost-effective PCR test kit (Raseed).

Emergency ventilators prototype

Researchers from Khalifa University are developing an emergency ventilator prototype, designed with affordable, easily accessible materials and 3D printing. The design is widely scalable, which means that it can be easily produced in large quantities to meet the increasing global demand for respirators due to the spread of Covid-19. The researchers estimated that production of 250 devices per day will be possible, at a cost of less than one thousand dollars per device, which is much less than traditional respirators that are priced between US$30,000 to US$50,000. This is possible thanks to the adoption of affordable, advanced technology combined with novel methodologies to extract in a reliable and accurate way the relevant vital parameters from the patient needed to provide adaptive respiratory assistance.

The prototype has been validated in the lab by using high-fidelity manikin simulators, and in collaboration with international partners.

Baynounah gene solutions - reagent to extract covid rna

In collaboration with the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), ADQ and its portfolio companies Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) and Abu Dhabi Ports Company, and Unilabs, KU has successfully manufactured a chemical solution that is designed to extract COVID-19 RNA. The chemical solution, or reagent, is manufactured locally in KU’s Biotechnology Center, and is key to carrying out nationwide PCR testing and supporting Abu Dhabi government efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19. KU has produced over 250,000 units of the chemical solution that extracts Covid-19 DNA.

Monitor the Covid-19 pandemic in the general population through surveillance of Sars-Cov-2 in municipal wastewater

Researchers at Khalifa University conducted the first study in the UAE to detect and quantify the presence of SARS-COV-2 in municipal wastewater. The KU team used a novel protocol to gather samples at 11 wastewater treatment plants in addition to 38 sewer pumping station locations, and tested the wastewater for the virus. Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was detected in wastewater samples taken before treatment. After treatment, however, the researchers were unable to detect any virus, proving that the treated water is safe for use, reflecting the efficient wastewater treatment systems implemented in the country. They are now testing for variants of the virus in the wastewater.

A model to show how long Sars-Cov-2 virus remains airborne

Khalifa University, in collaboration with Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, is developing a model to understand precisely how the COVID-19 virus travels through the air and how long it can stay airborne, in order to ensure A safer hospital environment and lower transmission rates, while assessing the effectiveness of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPEs).

A mathematical model to assess Covid-19 impact on a population

A team of researchers from Khalifa University has developed a model to help decision makers understand the impacts that different interventions will have as Covid-19 spreads. The model, open for anyone to use, is intended to understand how possible interventions may impact the Covid-19 outbreak and fatalities. The model can help visualize how different interventions, like social isolation, the number of ICUs available, the level of personal protective equipment (PPE), and the amount of tests being conducted, will impact the spread of the virus.

A simplified web version of the model was developed and is online for anyone to try. They designed the model to be open source, making it available to anyone who wants to plug in the parameters. The model is available here:

Reusable 3d-printed masks

A team of researchers at KU’s Aerospace Research and Innovation Center (ARIC) has developed a prototype of a reusable 3D printed  mask as a potential replacement for standard N95 masks that are in short supply following the COVID-19 pandemic.  In the design process, the team considered requirements including filtration performance, geometry/fit, flexibility, material suitability for medical applications, and manufacturability. Medically graded materials were used in the manufacture of the components. A prototype has already been printed and once completed, an assessment will be performed before it gets qualified and approved.

App to identify Covid-19 ‘high risk’ category users from smartphone data

The ‘CovidSense’ app is a smartphone-based initiative for fighting the spread of COVID-19. The app is designed to allow mobile phone users to check their health status related to Covid-19 and receive an estimated risk factor, along with those that have already been identified as COVID-19-infected, allowing them to monitor their symptoms under quarantine, while assisting them with their health control measures. The app records metadata and self-reported health status data, along with breathing sounds, cough, heart rate, and GPS location. The app is available in Google Play Store and Apple Store.

Self-Sanitizing Mobile Robot for Delivery of Logistical Supplies in Hospitals

To relieve pressures on hospitals and reduce the infection rate among health workers, Khalifa University is working in cooperation with Al Ain Hospital to develop a hospital assistant robot system that will perform some routine tasks, like delivering medicines and meals to patients. The robots will be self-sterilizing to reduce the disease spread, and will enable workers to perform other important patient care tasks. The team has already developed the robot prototype, which can navigate autonomously in indoor environments and avoid obstacles. It can also be tele-operated, and it has an emergency stop function. The next step in this project will see the team work on implementing a self-sterilizing function.

Characterization of factors that contribute to the pathogenesis of Sars-CoV-2 infection in the UAE

By studying the genetic sequence of the virus and how it interacts with its host, researchers from Khalifa University, United Arab Emirates University, University of Sharjah, the Health and Health Authority of Dubai, Western Australia University and Al Ain Fertility Center hope to gain a deep understanding of the many genetic factors that cause the different levels of infection severity. Specifically, they are studying how errors in certain genes in the human genome that regulate immune response can predispose patients to severe cases of COVID-19. They are comparing genetic backgrounds of those patients with mild reactions to the virus with the genetic backgrounds of patients with severe reactions to improve understanding of the disease mechanism of COVID-19.

Startups & Innovations

SALAM Sports company has developed the first pro-tour bicycle ever to be designed, developed and manufactured in the UAE, and it was done entirely by Khalifa University’s faculty and Emirati engineering students. The KU bike is made with lightweight and ultra-strong carbon fibers, known as carbon ‘prepregs’, provided by Strata Manufacturing, the UAE’s high-tech aircraft parts maker. The prepregs used in the bike would have normally been discarded by Strata, as they were no longer usable for aerospace components.


RestHero digitizes restaurant businesses. It gives restaurants the technology to seamlessly integrate into the e-commerce e-market by providing them with a website and/ or app, cloud-based point of sale (POS) system, analytical feedback, payment gateway, and other tools to help them keep their brand at the forefront of their customers’ minds.

Medical Advanced Research Projects (MARP)

MARP’s Twinkle Heart is a low-cost device for pregnant women to remotely monitor the fetal heart via a fetal phonocardiography-based signal system. Four fetal phonocardiogram sensors are held on the maternal abdomen by a square fabric harness and elastic belts.These sensors connect to a mobile phone’s audio port to capture the signals, which are then analyzed through a mobile application. The interface of the mobile phone app is user-friendly to provide point-of-care decision support to pregnant mothers, as well as healthcare workers in remote areas.


SPL Solutions is a software maintenance platform that automates many of the steps required to upgrade legacy code. It delivers software code-based insights and provides migration services to new development platforms such as the cloud SaaS platform.


HONS is aiming to reduce the number of car accidents on the road that are caused from drivers’ lack of attention or fatigue. Sensors are placed on the steering wheel to detect if a driver has removed his/her hands from the wheel or to detect drowsiness. The driver data is stored and alarms are emitted when a dangerous behavior is detected. An initial prototype has been developed  and showcased to interested customers.


Fabcast is developing new materials with a unique methodology through an automated tape casting procedure to create lightweight, scalable carbon nanosheets. The startup is focusing on applications in aerospace, satellites and battery industries. Fabcast is currently running a pilot program with a regional space agency, utilizing their advanced material in a critical satellite mission.


DroneLeaf provides drones with specialized controllers that use data sensors and artificial intelligence to enable drones to rapidly adapt and autonomously navigate complex environments with various obstacles and weather conditions. The controller software equips drones with greater agility and flexibility, making it easier to use drones in mission critical situations, while also allowing for a greater degree of innovative applications, as the drone maneuverability is increased.

Vision Emirates

With 8.5% of the global population suffering from color vision deficiency, Vision Emirates has developed a new type of tinted contact lenses that allows the wearer to recognize different shades of colors. Their contact lenses enable individuals suffering from color blindness to join the workforce in creative and defense sectors. The startup is currently looking to collaborate with a prominent vision care brand.


The UAE has close to 7,800 km of pipeline that carries oil and gas, and requires periodic maintenance. ADIIR has developed a real-time, noninvasive monitoring and predictive system for pipeline maintenance that accurately identifies defects, thus reducing operational downtime to zero. The startup is currently exploring pilots with a major oil and gas player and its value chain partners.


Khalifa University researchers have developed an environmentally friendly and efficient mask. The Nava Mask is made of electrospun membranes, which have extremely small pore sizes and high mechanical strength, allowing it to protect against different viruses and bacteria. This research aims to provide the world with new masks that are easy to use, more effective in preventing infection than traditional masks, and sustainable. The mask can be washed and reused several times prior to eventual disposal. In addition, the mask is biodegradable, making it an extremely environmentally friendly alternative to the current disposable masks that wind up in landfills.

Academic Achievements
The first undergraduate program in aerospace engineering in the region

Khalifa University has been a pioneer in providing qualified science staff for the space sector even before its establishment. It was the first university in the UAE to prepare and train young people in these vital fields; over 69 students graduated from the undergraduate program in aerospace engineering.

The first nuclear energy program in the UAE and the GCC

UAE nationals who hold undergraduate and graduate degrees from Khalifa University and who work in the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, Barakah nuclear power plant and the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation contribute significantly to the fulfillment of the country’s aspirations and ambitions regarding peaceful uses of nuclear energy. 380 Khalifa University graduates and trained professionals contributed to the UAE’s nuclear sector.

The UAE’s first space concentration

The UAE’s first Space Systems and Technology concentration is offered in five of Khalifa University’s master’s programs, building a talent pool of the next generation of space engineers.

Abu Dhabi’s first College of Medicine and Health Sciences

Khalifa University launched the College of Medicine and Health Sciences (CMHS), which offers the first 4-year professional MD degree program in the UAE, responding to the challenge of developing world-class healthcare in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates and the region.


We ranked 183rd globally in 2022 QS Rankings, making it the first and only university from the UAE to be placed among the top 200 universities in the world.


Khalifa University’s Petroleum Engineering Department was ranked 21st internationally, thus coming up among the Top 25 in the world, in the 2021 QS World University Rankings by Subject.


In Subject rankings, the US News & World Report’s 2020 Best Global Universities Rankings, Khalifa University was #114 in ‘Engineering’ in general, and #123 in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.


Khalifa University’s ‘Chemical Engineering’ was placed among top 100 globally in the Shanghai ARWU 2019 ranking.


We placed 28th in the Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings 2019.


KU ranked as the fastest growing university under 50 globally in the 2021 QS Top 50 Under 50 rankings.

The first UAE university to be ranked in the Shanghai ranking

The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) is recognized as the precursor of global university rankings and the most trustworthy one. ARWU presents the world’s top 1000 research universities annually based on transparent methodology and objective third-party data.

First national network of advanced research and education in the uae “Ankabut” established

Khalifa University plays a leading role in the evolution of the UAE’s network and cloud services for research and education through its Ankabut initiative. Ankabut serves as the country’s Advanced National Research and Education Network (NREN), offering connectivity between educational institutions and research organizations within the UAE and around the world. It is jointly funded by Khalifa University and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) through the ICT Fund.

The Aerospace Research and Innovation Center (ARIC) was established to grow the aerospace industry in the uae

The Aerospace Research and Innovation Center (ARIC) aims to develop efficient techniques for manufacturing advanced composites, additive manufacturing of aerospace components and developing procedures for the automated manufacturing and assembly of aerospace components.Over the past seven years, ARIC has completed nine main industry-focused projects, 28 student-led projects involving 65 UAE national students, the emergence of several patented innovations, and more than 30 academic publications in reputed research journals.

Khalifa Innovation Center (KIC) established to incubate deeptech startups in uae

KIC runs incubation and accelerator programs tailored to provide aspiring entrepreneurs and scientists with the necessary skills and knowledge to push research discoveries from laboratory to market. KIC has become the first to receive the Incubator License from Abu Dhabi DED, and will now be able to issue Innovative License to entrepreneurs incubating startups, and accelerate validation and introduction of technology-based startups. KIC has successfully incubated over ten technology-based startups to date. It is jointly supported by Khalifa University, Mubadala, Tawazun, Sandooq al Watan and Khalifa Fund.

First center for communication and information technology “EBTIC”

The Emirates ICT Innovation Center (EBTIC) is the first-of-its-kind in the UAE and the region. EBTIC advances intelligent systems technologies for the Next Generation Networks (NGNs) and NGN-enabled ICT applications and services, in order to put in place the support infrastructure to facilitate, develop and enable the digital networked economy in the UAE and beyond. EBTIC was established by Etisalat, BT, and Khalifa University and supported by the ICT Fund.

Launched the UAE Graduate Students Research Conference (GSRC) to expand networking opportunities to grad students

The GSRC is an interdisciplinary academic event that shares the research being conducted at universities across the UAE and their international partners. It provides opportunities for graduate students to share their research work amongst themselves, receive scholarly feedback, and network professionally. Prospective graduate students will be able to learn about the different research opportunities available at the participating academic institutions.

Launched the Smart Mobile Application Contest (SMAC) to accelerate the creation of innovative mobile apps

SMAC is a yearly competition open to all university students in the UAE and the MENA region held at Khalifa University that gives participants an opportunity to develop and demonstrate their mobile computing skills and to develop mobile phone applications to meet the demands of today’s mobile customers. The mobile apps developed by students in this contest may quality to be brought to the market. 

Launched the Emirates Technology & Innovation Competition (ETIC) to support talented students in ict domain

ETIC is a great opportunity for UAE national students to measure their skills against those of their peers from other institutes, acquire valuable experience, compete for prizes, engage potential employers, socialize with the other peers, and to enhance their knowledge.

Established the Young Future Energy Leaders (YFEL) to nurture a global community of leaders capable of accelerating sustainable development

YFEL offers young professionals and students from the UAE and abroad an opportunity to become more engaged in finding solutions to the world’s biggest challenges – achieving energy efficiency and tackling climate change. To date, the program has graduated 368 young future energy leaders in the UAE and around the world.

MBZ Buhooth Scholarship Program for UAE Nationals

The Buhooth program gives scholarships to Emirati students undertaking Masters and PhD studies. It became a model adopted by many graduate studies scholarships programs in the country. Through advanced studies at KU, the Buhooth Scholarship Program prepares UAE Nationals for leading positions in education, industry and government. The International Buhooth Program promotes research collaboration between academia and industry, and provides a means for knowledge and technology transfer to the UAE. Young Emirati students have the financial support to pursue postgraduate degrees at prestigious international universities such as Oxford, George Washington and McGill. To date, KU has graduated nearly 1,000 students from the Masters and PhD degree programs who received Buhooth scholarships.

Research Achievements
Established UAE's first cleanroom

The Gulf Cooperation Council region’s first cleanroom laboratory was launched to provide the ultra-clean environment and photolithography tools needed for advanced microelectronics research and small-scale production.

First Center for Biotechnology in the UAE: Khalifa University Center for Biotechnology (BTC)

Khalifa University Center for Biotechnology is the first-of-its-kind in the UAE. It contains the largest database that includes data on about 38,000 Emirati families and contains a total of 4,500 genetic samples. The Center aims to create a genetic map for the UAE in order to study chronic genetic diseases affecting the Emirati society, particularly those related to Vitamin D deficiency, Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure and genes responsible for addiction.

First university space lab

The Yahsat Space Laboratory was launched with Al Yahsat Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat) and Orbital ATK to develop and advance technologies within the space sector and to make continuing strides toward the UAE’s advanced space ambitions. Through the Khalifa University Space, Innovation and Technology Center (KUSTIC), KU students and faculty have already developed and launched three mini satellites, or CubeSats, into space. These include: MYSAT-1, MeznSat, and DhabiSat.

Bio-jetfuel harvested from world’s first research facility to grow both food and fuel using desert lands irrigated by seawater

The first harvest of bio-jet fuel from the Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS) was achieved, a critical milestone in its development of sustainable aviation biofuels for the UAE. The SEAS is funded by the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), a non-profit consortium founded by Masdar Institute, Etihad Airways, Boeing and Honeywell UOP. Takreer, the Abu Dhabi oil refining company, along with Safran and GE Aviation, have since joined the research group.

First UAE Wind Atlas

The first UAE Wind Atlas was established to accurately characterize the UAE’s wind resources and ultimately support investments in wind energy projects. The launch of the atlas made the UAE the first country in the region to develop its own publicly available wind atlas, which was integrated into the Global Atlas for Renewable Energy platform of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) as a contribution from the UAE Government.

Region’s first CSP and TES demonstration facility

The Masdar Institute Solar Platform (MISP) allows for concentrating solar power (CSP) and thermal energy storage (TES) technologies to be developed on a wider scale by providing access to high- performance CSP research and demonstration infrastructure.The facility is being used to test reflector technologies, solar receiver, absorber tubes, heat transfer fluids, mirrors, thermal energy storage systems and a variety of components used in the CSP industry. Located in Masdar City and operated by the Masdar Institute in conjunction with Masdar as part of the Masdar Solar Hub, the Masdar Institute Solar Platform offers a valuable resource to equipment manufacturers, system integrators and installers, project developers, utility companies, investors, private end users, research organizations, and the public.

Mapping the Emirati human genome

Khalifa University scientists successfully completed the reference genome for the UAE population. They reported the first UAE Whole Genome Sequence with two papers describing the genomes of 1,000 UAE nationals.

Built the KU marine robotics lab as a world class facility to generate waves and simulate real world conditions

Marine applications are an emerging frontier of robotics with high potential for societal and economic impact. The KU Marine Robotics Lab is a world class facility, measuring 17x10x4m, with capabilities to generate waves and streams to simulate real world conditions. The pool will also have underwater and above water tracking systems to accurately measure and control robots operating in the pool.

Building largest wind tunnel in UAE capable of simulating wind speeds up to 70 m/s

The KU low-speed wind tunnel facility will be the largest of its kind in the UAE and the region, capable of simulating wind speeds of up to 70 m/s. Its state-of-the-art design and measurement equipment will allow research in various subjects, from aerodynamics of light aircraft, terrestrial and maritime vehicles, to flows associated with nuclear plant cooling, large structures in civil engineering, and environmental flows over models of landscapes and population centers.

First clean energy institute: Masdar Institute

Masdar Institute at KU is the region’s first clean energy institute. As a research-driven scientific institution focused on education and research in energy and sustainability, it aims to develop the scientific and human talent required for the new clean technology sector to thrive.